Antique Diaries; Part III

32nd Maine Infantry

32nd Maine Infantry

This is the third installment of entries from the 1886 diary of Esther Small. I mentioned in the first post that she was born in Sandy Creek, New York in Oswego County to the clergyman Hiram Waite. According to census records, he died in 1886 which, I believe, sheds more light on Esther’s homesickness during this year. I haven’t found much extra census  information on Esther’s father and mother, except for the fact that Hiram taught religious studies at the Antwerp Liberal Literary Institute in New York and that both Esther and her sister Julia attended as teenagers. The roster specified that they studied languages. Esther’s lineage goes back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony where one of her grandfathers served Governor John Winthrop and led troops against a Native American coalition in King Phillip’s War. Curiously, King Phillip’s War plays a part in my second collection of poetry. I didn’t know about Esther’s familial connection before writing it.  William’s family had been established in Maine for at least a couple generations. The only information I’ve been able to find for him is connected to his service in the Civil War. William began his service with the 31st infantry which was later absorbed by the 32nd infantry. He saw action in some pivotal and particularly bloody battles: The Wilderness, Spottsylvania Courthouse and the Crater among them. He was released from service due to injury less than a year before the war’s close. The injury is not specified. 


Friday, April 16, 1886

Today has been pleasent

and seems quite like spring.

Have not done much

but the housework today

as I have not felt like it.

Sent a letter to M G S(?)

Childs for some house plants

a (1.05) one dollar and 5 cts

worth. Had the letter registered.

William did it for me tonight.

He went after the mail.


Sunday, April 18, 1886

Pleasant all day

and quite warm.

After dinner and

I did the work up,

I took Garfield and

Abbie up to Edd Morses

to see some little pigs.

They have four.

Silas and Reuben Wright

here today.

Got some more papers

to read from Etta Morse.


Tuesday, April 20, 1886

Pleasant all day.

William started to

work for Silas Wright

but met his brother

coming here to help him

so he came back but                                          

sent up word he                                         

could not come.

Intended to have washed

today but did not

as I could not

and do the work too.


Wednesday, April 21, 1886

Washed today had

a four weeks wash.

Got through a little

past noon was

tired I can tell

you. William

worked for Silas

Wright today.

It has been warm

and pleasant all day


Monday, May 3, 1886

Pleasant and mild all day.

Elias H Morse worked

here with his oxen

this forenoon.

        This afternoon

Henry Morse worked

here with his horses

plowing for William


Tuesday, May 4, 1886

Unpleasant most of the day

this forenoon. It snowed

hard and it was cold.

Snowed by spells all day.

H Morse intended

to have worked here

again today but the storm

prevented.William went

to his good templars lodge

to night. He got me

a webb of sheeting 42

yds and ten yards besides.


Wednesday, May 5, 1886

Henry Morse finished

plowing for William

this afternoon. Did not

get through till late.

     This morning

after I done up the

work I tore off three

sheets commenced

sewing on one today.

Pleasant all day.


Monday, May 17, 1886

Today I washed the white clothes.

Did not get through (til) late

as I had no one to help me

and I had all my wood

and water to bring, the

children to look after,

the pigs to feed, lamb

and chickens also

as William worked for

Billy Bryant today.

Came home just as we

were going to eat our supper.

He was mad. He called me

a god damned son of a bitch

of a whore and hoped

every time he went away

he would come home

and find me dead.


Tuesday, May 18, 1886

Finished the rest

of the washing today.

Got through a little

afternoon. Did not

have much help today.

William home all day too

and not doing much

of any work either.

William went to his

good Templars lodge

to night. Finished another

sheet to night.        (my note** maybe sheets for the baby)


Monday, May 24, 1886

Pleasant all day.

I did not wash today

as I did not feel like it.

William at home today.

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